Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dr. Jean Decety, Editor - Empathy: From Bench to Bedside


Dr.  Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, was kind enough to send me a copy of the new book he edited and to which he also contributes, Empathy: From Bench to Bedside (from the MIT Press Social Neuroscience series).

Among the other books he he has written or edited include The Social Neuroscience of Empathy by Jean Decety and William Ickes (this book is excellent - my first introduction to the neuroscience side of empathy studies), The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience (Oxford Library of Psychology) by Jean Decety and John T. Cacioppo, and Interpersonal Sensitivity: Entering Others' Worlds: A Special Issue of Social Neuroscience (Special Issues of Social Neuroscience) by Jean Decety and Dan Batson.

A great collection of his papers is available through his Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory page at the University of Chicago.

Here is the MIT Press description of this new book:
Empathy: From Bench to Bedside
Edited by Jean Decety

There are many reasons for scholars to investigate empathy. Empathy plays a crucial role in human social interaction at all stages of life; it is thought to help motivate positive social behavior, inhibit aggression, and provide the affective and motivational bases for moral development; it is a necessary component of psychotherapy and patient-physician interactions. This volume covers a wide range of topics in empathy theory, research, and applications, helping to integrate perspectives as varied as anthropology and neuroscience. he contributors discuss the evolution of empathy within the mammalian brain and the development of empathy in infants and children; the relationships among empathy, social behavior, compassion, and altruism; the neural underpinnings of empathy; cognitive versus emotional empathy in clinical practice; and the cost of empathy.

Taken together, the contributions significantly broaden the interdisciplinary scope of empathy studies, reporting on current knowledge of the evolutionary, social, developmental, cognitive, and neurobiological aspects of empathy and linking this capacity to human communication, including in clinical practice and medical educiation.


I have only just started this book, but it is an excellent resource on empathy from the research and philosophical sides to the clinical practice realm (which is my real interest).
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